St. Peter's Blog 'Body Language' from St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church – North Wales, PA's Blog

Body Language

Image Thursday, Mar 23, 2017
Author: Pastor Andreas Wagner

We learned something important about Saint Paul's body language on our recent trip to Belize...

Saint Paul not only called the church the “Body of Christ.” He also used the body’s organism as a metaphor for a good and healthy congregation.  According to the passage in 1. Corinthians 12, everybody has a role to play in the life of the church and each individual congregation, just like the different members of the body work in harmony: hand, feet, eyes, ears, etc.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” 1.  Corinthians 12:12

In the real world, however, people’s egos frequently get in the way of this beautiful ideal. In reality there are sometimes tasks in ministry that nobody wants to take on. In reality we don’t always honor each other’s gifts as we ought to. Yet, every so often, we experience something that comes close to the healthy, interdependent organism that Paul describes in his letter to the Corinthians. It’s when all reap the benefits of each other’s gifts and work together toward a common goal. Our Mission Service trip to Belize was such an experience. To God be the glory!   

St. Peter’s first global mission trip led us to a small, rural community in Central Belize, February 18-25, 2017. We went there, partnering with Praying Pelican Missions, expecting to connect with a local church, be housed in their community, run a Vacation Bible School for children and build a chicken coop. 

From the outset, everybody in our group of 13 engaged in a wonderful spirit of collaboration towards preparing for the mission. Everyone found a way to contribute. I would like to begin with Bernie and Martha Heinze who ended up having to stay home due to some things beyond their control. Long before the trip started, they helped us setting up a successful business logo fundraiser, created the “We Belize!” logo and ordered coffee mugs, hats and pin buttons, all of which gave our first global mission trip a distinct image and helped raise needed funds.  Henry Hoffman and Dave Kinka took on leadership for the chicken coop project, obtained a blue print and oversaw the construction.  Allison Gross and Robin Alderfer prepared the crafts for Vacation Bible School, Allison serving as our tireless on-site craft coordinator. Michele Annibal got us rolling with topics and plans for the Vacation Bible School, and when we needed to get something across to the crowd of children, her voice braved the storm. Jennifer Trippetti helped us with activities and travel planning and prepared a devotion. Jean Prindle impressed us all with her teaching wisdom and the many useful things she had brought in her little bag, as only experienced travelers can do. Cate Hayes helped with communication and challenged herself working with children. Terry Kinka was our quiet all-round supporter who was there whenever we needed something. Ann Kanof contributed mightily with her distinct laughter and sense of joy in the midst of hard work. And behind the scenes, Martha Pope had booked all our flights and set up administration links with PPM. This was a group that God had brought together.

I can also share many things about the people and met, people we came to love and appreciate. There was the passionate and skilled leadership of our guides, a young couple, Herman and Marian Blease. In fact, they contributed the missing gift that was in short supply in our own group: strong musical leadership. They led kids in fun songs during Vacation Bible School and enriched worship with beautiful renditions of contemporary Christian songs. And they were just a joy to be around.  In fact, so much so that we are trying to help them come here for St. Peter’s Vacation Bible School in July.

There were the children themselves, who were blissfully without electronic devices, spending time with one another, playing games and some of them singing their hearts out during worship and afterwards. There were the annoying roosters, turkeys and a variety of other noisy animals that kept us from sleeping in the middle of the night. There was the one concrete shower stall that had to suffice and the small inconvenience of using purified water for everything that entered our mouth. There were the beautiful simple dishes that Pastor Teul’s family made for us. They served us breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, and did the dishes.

Every day was filled with activities, conversations, work and service, from Sunday through Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday, after the VBS was done and the chicken coop was built, we went to Caye Caulker island before heading back to Philadelphia. It was, by all accounts, a wonderful experience for everyone. One of the things that stood out for me was the “body language” in our group: the language of sharing, collaborating, working together to serve God. Saint Paul would have been proud.    

Pastor Andreas Wagner

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